GE CEO Jeff Immelt heard the voices of the 99 percent this morning as he started his prepared remarks at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress Tuesday morning in Detroit. A half dozen people interrupted his speech to deliver a message of paying taxes and stop dodging them through tax loopholes. Outside in the hallway another two dozen people played a game of tax dodger ball.
Over the last decade GE paid an effective tax rate of just 2.3 percent while the marginal corporate tax rate is 35 percent. Shyquetta McElroy, a mother of two from Milwaukee attempted to present Immelt with a tax bill of $26.5 billion that the company managed to evade.
“Mr. Immelt, when are you going to pay the $26 billion in taxes,” asked McElroy at the beginning of his speech. “I pay my taxes year after year – why doesn’t GE?”
Immelt tried to continue his speech but could not resist saying the company paid 29 percent in taxes last year. While technically true the rate represents a global tax rate and GE actually paid 25 percent in federal taxes for 2011. The most the Fortune 100 company paid in the last ten years while making billions in profits, cutting 32,000 jobs since 2004, and holding more than $94 billion in offshore accounts.
Those questioning Immelt were escorted out of the room by security still wanting answers.
At the end of the video (thanks to D. Morris Michael) you can hear Immelt talk about a glowing future for America and businesses but the current way of doing business can only continue making the rich even richer at the expense of working class people.
GE portrays itself as a poster child of American business through commercials showing workers experiencing their end product. The truth though is a lot darker. If GE can claim a poster child status it is the epitome of the global one percent of company’s lobbying and contributing to campaigns in exchange for lower taxes and looser regulations.
In the hallway more protesters played a symbolic game of tax dodger ball. Two dozen people entered the building, some carrying dodge balls, to begin their game.
“The dodge balls represented the taxes GE is currently dodging,” said Kyndall Mason, of One Pittsburgh. “I threw quite a few of them.”
Much like GE dodged many of their taxes. In fact the company managed to not pay any federal taxes from 2008-2010. During the same time period their top five executives took home $234 million. They also spent $84.35 million in lobbying expenditures.
Activists want GE to take their money out of our democracy, pay their marginal tax rate, and invest in American jobs.
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